For Reynard Loki and Jennifer Daniels, the future might lie, for some people in places such as Israel or Australia, in what they are calling Underground Desert Living Units, UDLU for short.
Loki began working on the idea in March 2008, and he later found Daniels to do the illustrations.
When asked how he was inspired to create UDLU, Loki said a news article titled “Exotic climate study sees refugees in Antarctica” got him thinking about where such refugees might live. Another news article titled “Global Warming Threatens Australia’s Iconic Kangaroos” spoke of climate models showing up to a six-degree rise in Australia’s temperature by the year 2070.
The article predicted that large swaths of Australia will become dry and parched.
And then a radio interview with British scientist James Lovelock about New Zealand serving in the future as a “lifeboat” for climate refugees in the southern hemisphere convinced Loki that the idea of UDLU might be useful to think about and envision.
“You’ve seen it happening in Australia already: Desert is spreading and things just won’t grow,” Lovelock told a New Zealand radio station reporter last year. “The island nations like New Zealand will be spared that kind of damage.”
Loki remembers how the idea for UDLU came to him: “Thinking about the possible eventual loss of fertile land, the growth of desert climates and creation of global warming refugees recalled my own desire to
build a house in the desert when I first visited California’s Mojave Desert several years ago. The idea back then was to build a biomorphic living space based on cell structure as a way to emulate nature. All of the rooms would be circular — there would be no corners.”
The concept of the Underground Desert Living Unit (UDLU) takes certain design elements moves them underground, envisioning a localized solution for “global warming refugees,” allowing them to stay in their original region, according to Loki, who lives in New York City.
UDLUs could be easily interconnected, allowing flexibility and community growth, leaving a wind energy generator, a solar energy generator, a solar-powered greenhouse and an air purifier system above ground, he says.
The idea of UDLU is to give an option to the millions of possible “global warming refugees,” he adds, noting: “So we don’t have to go to New Zealand or to polar regions to live in so-called polar cities, also under development as a futuristic idea. We can move underground, underneath our newly-born desert landscapes.
Questions still linger, Loki admits.
He asks: “How will UDLUs be built? What will they be made of? How will energy be generated? How will food be grown in these newly-formed arid regions? How will water will be accessed? What will living underground do to us physically or psychologically?”
Loki has set up the Underground Desert Living Research Institute (UDLRI) to promote the research and development of an inexpensive, flexible, easily constructed, sustainable, eco-friendly Underground Desert Living Unit (UDLU) and hopes to collect, share and analyze information about global warming, green architecture and sustainable technologies, he says.
More on climate refugees:
Climate Change Kills Syrian Villages
This guest post is by Dan Bloom, a climate activist working in Taiwan. He graduated from Tufts College in 1971 in Boston. He is an advocate of polar cities, building retreats for humankind for when the effects of global warming will make regions we live in today inhospitable.